Phillaakhomicidaments

Thanks to WickedChops for bringing this one to my attention.

I’m not sure where to start so let me give you the quick and dirty. Some guy has started a website which accusses Phil Laak of hiring a hitman to kill him back in the days when Phil was a backgammon hustler. I think that’s the really, really abbreviated version so go read the whole thing yourself. But the thing is that a lot of people are calling this guy a complete whackjob because his story is disjointed and his spelling is at the fifth grade level. Okay, the ability to string together thoughts into logical chains and not spelling by as bye will add credibility to any story you attempt to sell but the lack of those communications skills doesn’t settle the question of whether the story is fact or fiction.

There’s also the issue that there are some pretty big holes in the guy’s story as well. And I do mean large. As in large as in Phil Laak supposedly offered $15K to kill the guy over a $10K dispute.

But, all that being said, I do feel the parts of the story that do make sense should be yanked out of the 2+2 thread where everybody is so quick to post their flawed analysis that they miss a lot of key points.

DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT BELIEVE THIS GUY’S STORY. I’M SIMPLY TRYING TO TAKE HIS MAIN ARGUMENTS AND PRESENT THEM IN A WAY THAT DOESN’T SOUND SO INSANE.

So first off, his entire story at this point is this:

1. Back before Phil became a poker celebrity he spent some time in Pattaya hustling.

2. Phil got into a motor bike accident and injured two children.

3. This guy helped Phil sort out the mess by paying off the families.

4. Phil paid the guy $5K for helping him sort out the mess.

5. Phil and the guy decided to get into some sort of import/export business together.

6. Phil gave him an additional $15K to get the business started up.

7. The guy claims that he notified Phil that it would cost an extra $10K because they were exporting religious artifacts and he had to pay a tax.

8. Phil freaks out over the $10K.

9. The gets a phone call from an American ex-pat that he knows that tells him that Phil has offered him $15K to kill the guy and his wife and will pay him another $15k when he sees photos of them dead.

Everything else the guy says is pretty much name calling, speculation (that the stress caused his wife to get MS sooner), and a little wacky.

So, let’s look for the problems in this story. First off, nobody in their right mind is going to pay $30K to whack a guy over a $10K dispute. That smells a little fishy.

It also seems a little strange that there’s a $10K tax to export $15K worth of religious artifacts. Okay, I know that Thailand is really nutty on people exporting actual religious artifacts (not the cheap touristy stuff) but $10K seems excessive.

Ahhhh . . . but this is where the story starts to get fun. Someone claiming to be Tom Grant, the guy who had the hit put on him, shows up on 2+2 and admits that they weren’t exporting artifacts. The plan was to smuggle heroin out of Thailand back to the US. Now the $10K “tax” makes sense as does a willingness to spend $30K to off someone who you’ve given less than the amount you’re paying to have killed.

But is it really Tom Grant? Don’t know. Could just be a prankster who decided to wind up 2+2. But, if it is, it does explain away some of the holes in his story. The street value of $15K worth of smack at Thai prices has got to be astronomical. I’ve allowed my subscription to Heroin Pricing Weekly to slide so I can’t put an exact dollar figure on it but $15K will buy you a buttload of smack in Thailand (and a death sentence if caught).

But let’s question some of the bigger points of his story. Was Phil hanging around in Thailand hustling backgammon? According to someone who says he shared a place with Phil:

I lived with Phil Laak for over a year,he was my roomate.He knew backgammon very well,and when i met him,he was just starting poker.I taught him most everything he knows.But i can tell you one thing,he is a smart guy.He knows how he comes off,and yes it is an act…but hes like a child in some ways,very immature.Fun to be with though…i know things about him that one one else does in the world.There are quite a few things actually im sure he would like to sweep under the rug and forget(Thailand,cheating,drug stuff etc). I cant even get in contact with him now cuz hes so famous…shame really. Aside from all his antics, he is a genius …only another genius can know this,so i can label him with safety. I can tell you he would LOVE being warned at a game about his behavior,he loves confrontation,arguements…taking things to the next level.Any questions people might have i can answer…i probably know him better than anyone…

You can check out the original quote on a cached version via Google which seems to indicate that this post was made by someone named Tripwyre back in October of 2005.

So we have Thailand and drug stuff being mentioned back in 2005. Not necessarily a solid link that confirms anything but it is what it is, an unsubstantiated claim made by some anonymous internet person.

Now, another poster in the 2+2 thread claims that this is a very well known story in gambling circles in Pattaya. Then again he also claims to be really good friends with the guy who had the hit put on him and only has 6 posts. So take that for what it’s worth. Another newbie with 1 post to his credit is a guy who claims to be a retired American police officer living in Thailand. He claims he’s heard the same stories. Again how much credibility can you give a guy with one post?

Was Phil ever in Thailand? Again, not enough info to confirm.

Another part of the backstory that has come out is that this guy approached Phil at the WSOP expo while Phil was signing autographs and Phil bolted from the room as soon as he saw him. If you look on his website he has a picture of him and his wife in Thailand. He also has a picture of him with Phil at this year’s WSOP in which he claims, and it does appear, Phil is attempting to give him the brush off.

HOWEVER I can confirm that I was at the Expo, saw the bald headed dude near Phil, and 10 minutes later saw Phil and Jennifer scoot out the emergency exit on the north-west side (next to the GES booth, they almost ran me over while I was hanging with the Calloway booth hotties). So that part of the story might be true. The rest of it still sounds suspect to me however even though its an old rumor, its hard to believe Phil is capable of that. — *TT* on 2+2

Given that a 2+2 moderator, *TT* confirms that Phil and Jennifer Tilly rushed out of there in a big hurry through the emergency exit and now you’ve got two major possibilities:

a) This guy is some really bizzare stalker who flew half way around the world to freak out Phil at the WSOP.

b) Phil knew him and didn’t want to speak to him.

So we still have nothing that confirms anything of what this guy has said. But let’s also look at some other aspects of this not directly related to his claims.

Back in 2005 someone named tomtom showed up on WPTFan.com and posted some messages about Phil Laak:

Authored by: tomtom on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 10:33 PM EST
PHIL LAAK IS A DISGRACE AND WILL SOON BE EXPOSED FOR WHAT HE IS A DRUG DEAL FROM THAILAND

Authored by: tomtom on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 10:35 PM EST
phil laak is a fraud and will soon be exposed on the poker circuit for what he is

Based on the name “tomtom” and the fact that he says basically the same thing on his website, gotta think this is the same dude. So he’s been screaming about this for at least two years and finally hunted Phil down at this year’s WSOP. Again, he’s either a real nutter or someone very pissed off at Laak.

One puzzling thing about this is why would a legitimate business guy go to all this trouble. He advertises his business on the site he accuses Laak of trying to kill him so I went there and found photos of him. Okay, same guy. I checked the WHOIS on his business site and it’s been registered since 2001. Since he claims his wife was left without the use of her leg in 2000 and he started his business which offers travel adverntures in Thailand for people with diabilities this all seems to fit. The domain is registered to an AHT Design and seems to be managed by a hosting provider service called Our Help Desk. Nothing too interesting there. Both his business website and the Laak accusation website are served off the same server so the two are certainly connected. Also found out he just recently registered the domain for the Laak accusation site so this must be something he’s only recently hatched.

Now, the only logical reason that he’s doing all of this that doesn’t involve some sort of link between Laak and Tom Grant is if this has been a wonderfully elaborate scam to increase his page rank via links to his crazy story. Seems like an awful lot of trouble to go to if that’s the case. Plus he gives out his phone number on the Laak accusation site and somebody actually called him and said he sounds pissed but not crazy.

But other than that everything else says that either the guy is completely crazy or there is some sort of link between him and Phil Laak.

Another one of those things that sort of makes you think it might be true is that his actions are completely consistent with his story. All this crazy stuff with Phil happens. His wife freaks out and jumps on the bike to report that Phil is trying to have her and her husband killed and she gets hit by a car and losses the use of one of her legs. Now, Phil’s a nobody at this point and he’s back in the US so the guy basically focuses on rebuilding his life with his now disabled wife and starts up a business. A few years start going by and then Phil Laak becomes the Unibomber. He’s on television. He’s on magazine covers. This is the same guy who put a hit on him a few years ago. But he can’t really do anything about it so he vents his frustration out on a WPTFan website. But the bigger Phil gets the more it’s eating the guy up inside and he finally can’t stand it anymore and decides to confront him at the WSOP. He still doesn’t quite get his satisfaction so he starts up a website hoping to draw attention to the guy who has ruined his life. If his story is actually true then all of his actions fit.

One interesting tidbit that I was able to dig up is that Phil isn’t exactly squeeky clean. . . if you believe rumors. In that *TT* comment I quoted there’s another part of that post where *TT* mentions a story about Phil robbing a safe. *TT* elaborates later in the thread that the story is that Phil got busted stealing the safe from a card room he used to work at in NY. Unfortunately for him they caught him on tape doing it and called him up and said bring the safe back. Young and stupid or an example of other criminal behavior? Hell, it may not even be true. But the story is out there and I even read about it on the Full Contact Poker message boards too.

Bottom line is that while very little this guys has said can be proven his main problem seems to be in articulating his story. He’s opened the door for a lot of people to think he’s completely off his rocker (which he may be). I think he needs to supply some of the evidence he suggests that he has. He also needs to stop lying. He said he got into business with Phil to import/export religious artifacts and then (if he’s the same guy on 2+2) that they were actually smuggling heroin.

We’ll see how or if this develops.

Bill Rini
Bill Rini is currently the Head of Online Poker for WSOP. He has been working in the online poker industry since 2004 and has held management roles at Full Tilt Poker and PartyPoker.